People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49

December 09, 2012







--- CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THE first four days of the winter session of parliament, which began on November 22, 2012, were disrupted because of the government’s adamant stand on the opposition’s demand for a discussion entailing voting on the issue of permitting FDI in multi-brand retail trade. The government of the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in fact preferred this disruption as it was not in favour of voting. On the other hand, the Trinamul Congress tried to move a no-confidence motion against the UPA government. However, in the all-party meeting on November 26, the UPA allies displayed ambivalence while the Trinamul Congress reconfirmed its status as a B-team of the Congress party by not insisting on a discussion entailing voting. Thus the situation turned favourable to the UPA government and, thus getting confident about the numbers, the latter decided to have a discussion on FDI under that rule which mandates voting.




In Rajya Sabha during the question hour, Sitaram Yechury, leader of the CPI(M) group in parliament, expressed concern over the rise in the cost of production in the farm sector due to the rise in prices of fertilisers, diesel and other inputs. He stressed the need of ensuring really remunerative prices for agriculture produce. He quoted from the minister’s reply to the effect that the government announces minimum support prices (MSPs) for major agricultural commodities to ensure remunerative prices to growers with a view to encouraging higher investment and also safeguarding the interest of consumers by ensuring supplies at reasonable prices. However, Yechury said, “It is clear that as far as MSP is concerned, it is nowhere remunerative,” adding that the government has rejected the Swaminathan commission’s recommendation of paying the cost of production + 50 per cent as the remunerative price of a crop. He also enquired by what time the government had planned to complete its study on the agricultural costs and announce a proper price on its basis. He said the agrarian crisis and distress, leading to many trends, including farmers’ suicides which are unbearable. A situation like this cannot be permitted in the country. The government is not displaying any sense urgency this issue requires.


In Lok Sabha, under calling attention motion, Ramchandra Dome of the CPI(M) raised the issue of massive outbreak of dengue and chikungunya. This year the detected cases of dengue are 35,066 and the death toll is 216. He referred to the minister’s categorical statement that the occurrence of these diseases is mainly due to various manmade and environmental factors, saying that it is no consolation as this death rate is very high. In many cases, there is no reporting either. In West Bengal it was officially claimed that no death had taken place this year. But according to the record of the West Bengal’s Ministry of Health, the total number of people affected by dengue cases, including those in the Kolkata metropolitan area, was 2,033 in the month of September this year, and the death toll was seven. But even this is not the actual position. Cases are not being detected in time due to lack of proper investigative facilities at the grassroots level; there is no proper coordination between various agencies either. This is an abject failure on the part of the state government as well as of the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme. There should be effective implementation of the programme in coordination with all the stakeholders. So far as treatment is concerned, there are no scientifically proved antibiotics to treat the patients, most of whom are children and infants. There is no supportive treatment either. The government should made available intensive treatment facilities; blood transfer and particularly the platelets transfer facilities should reach the affected people. The corporate hospitals are taking advantage of this situation and exploiting our people. Dome also demanded a standard protocol for treatment as it is very much necessary today.




In Lok Sabha, speaking on the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2011, Saidul Haque pointed that money laundering has been globally recognised as one of the largest threats posed to the financial system of a country. While the bill expands the definition of money laundering to include activities like concealment, acquisition, possession and use of the proceeds of a crime, it must be so amended that local courts have the power to try a person even when (s)he is acquitted in a case outside India. Today if a criminal court outside India finds, under the law of the concerned country, that no offence of money laundering has taken place, a local court has nothing to do in that case. That must not be so in a sovereign country. Another important thing is that the regulatory and intelligence agencies must set up a monitoring and coordination mechanism to curb money laundering taking place through stock and securities markets. As for unaccounted money in foreign havens, the government has been promising for the last few years that it would bring this money back and also bring to book the culprits, but so far the government has not been able to take any action. With Mauritius, we have a double tax avoidance agreement. As Mauritius has no tax on capital gains, any person starting a business in Mauritius is not required to pay taxes in India. This is leading to a big revenue loss to the government of India while a lot of money laundering is also taking place and black money gets converted into white money. So the agreement with Mauritius must be immediately reviewed so that there is no money laundering through the Mauritius route. The Department of Revenue must take into account the incidence of trade involving money laundering but which is not considered as a money laundering offence so far. If the Finance Ministry does not look into this aspect, we cannot be faithful in the implementation aspect. It is essential for the ministry to prescribe a strict time limit for cases and completing the investigation process. Otherwise, if it continues for years together, nothing is going to come out of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.


Haque also referred to the case of the HSBC that has an international presence and is allowed to transfer funds from one country to another. The government must come forward and immediately take action against the HSBC because it has a number of hidden accounts. The Reebok fraud has already come to our notice wherein more than Rs 870 crore has been brought in a sports company business by Reebok India. The Mahindra Satyam is well known to everybody. Also, trafficking of women and children is also taking place through money laundering business. The government must take serious note of these things and stop money laundering.


Saidul Haque also spoke on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2011. He said this bill was brought to meet the commitments made at the Financial Action Task Force regarding the policies to combat money laundering and terror financing. The bill seeks to amend the definition of a person, definition of property, and the definition of a terrorist act by including the threats to the economic security of India and damage to its monetary stability. But there are already a number of laws to take care of these aspects.


However, Haque’s main concern was that there is every possibility of the UAPA Act being misused. The draconian provisions of the UAPA are being used to deny to some people the normal process of justice, while there is no time-bound procedure for completing the judicial process, and Muslim youth are being victimised in this manner. It is in this backdrop that the government has brought another amendment to the act without reviewing and reconsidering the draconian provisions that are already there in the UAPA. So a review and reconsideration of the UAPA is the urgent need of the time. Without doing so, such amendments will make it more stringent and the possibility of its misuse might continue. Bringing an association of persons or body of individuals in the definition of a person may give leverage to the investigating officers and could lead to harassment of innocent people. This provision may allow misuse of the act because a person who may be completely unaware of terrorist activities done by another person of a body or organisation will be subjected to punishment or harassment. Haque therefore suggested that the government must not show any hurry to pass the bill, defer it, have consultations about it, and also review and reconsider the draconian provisions in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.